Czech cybersecurity agency warns Huawei and ZTE products pose security threat

Huawei and ZTE face new barriers to supplying equipment to critical infrastructure providers and government agencies in the Czech Republic.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The Czech Republic's national cybersecurity agency has urged against using software and hardware from Huawei and ZTE because they present a security threat. 

The Czech security agency is the latest security body to raise an alarm over Huawei's technology and its potential to be used by Beijing for spying. 

Following a US ban on government purchases of Huawei equipment, Japan earlier this month reportedly banned its government agencies from buying Huawei and ZTE equipment. Australia and New Zealand have barred Huawei and ZTE from supplying their respective 5G networks, both countries citing national security concerns. 

While the Czech government has not banned Huawei and ZTE equipment, the formal security warning from Czech's National Cyber and Information Security Agency (NCISA) does have implications for some contracts in the country. 

NCISA said the security threat from the two firms' products mainly comes down to China's legal and political system for companies headquartered there. 

"China's laws, among other things, require private companies residing in China to cooperate with intelligence services, therefore introducing them into the key state systems might present a threat," says the director of NCISA Dušan Navrátil.

Navrátil also warned that China "actively pursues its interests in the territory of the Czech Republic, including influence and espionage intelligence activities."

Under Czech cybersecurity laws, a formal warning by NCISA requires admins of critical infrastructure and key information systems to acknowledge the threat and implement adequate security measures. 

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Admins will now be obliged to take into account the warning when selecting a supplier for IT and communications systems, and reflect these requirements in supplier contracts. 

ZDNet has contacted Huawei's UK office for a response to the Czech agency's security warning. A call to ZTE's UK office went unanswered. 

A Huawei spokesperson told Reuters: "We categorically deny any suggestion that we pose a threat to national security."

"We call for NCISA to provide evidence instead of tarnishing Huawei's reputation without any proof."

The spokesman also denied NCISA's assertion that Chinese laws could compel to create backdoors in its products. 

"There are no laws or regulations in China to compel Huawei, or any other company, to install 'mandatory back doors'," he said. 

"Huawei has never received any such request from any government and we would never agree to it." 


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